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Iroquois

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Nishchit Gautam

on 7 February 2013

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Transcript of Iroquois

Overview: The Iroquois of the Eastern Woodlands are a group of native people of North America. They are made up of six nations or tribes: Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk and Tuscarora. The Language spoken in the tribes is Iroquoian. The current population of the Iroquois is 55,000. Iroquois of the Eastern Woodlands Region The Iroquois were originally located around Upstate New York, south of Lake Ontario. They were primarily based west of the Hudson River. Haudenosaunee - "People of the Longhouses" In the present, the Iroquois have reservations throughout Eastern North America in New York State, Quebec, Ontario, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. Contact The first two contacts with the Iroquois was made by the French. The two were:
Jacques Cartier (1534) who first made contact by the St. Lawrence.
Samuel de Champlain (1609) in New York. From the early to mid 1000's, the Iroquois were able to drive out all other tribes out of the Ohio Valley. But it was at the height of their military power when the Iroquois were able to use there tremendous politics and military to put the Dutch, the French, and the British against one another. In 1677, the Iroquois took sides with the British making the French a hostile threat to the Iroquois. This sparked a conflict that would last four years (1685-1689) resulting the death of many Iroquoian people. The French also gathered 50 Iroquoian chiefs who had come for truce and shipped to Marseilles, France to be used as slaves. In 1701, the Iroquois were able to sign a peace treaty, "Great Peace of Montreal" with the French. They have inhabited the country surrounding the Great Lakes since the 1200`s. They were able to construct large town whose surroundings were guarded by a defensive fences called a palisades. The fertile land they lived in allowed them to grow many plants in the fields surrounding the towns. Shelter The Iroquois of the Eastern Woodland mainly lived in homes named long houses. Long houses ranged from 18-67 meters in length and some even reached the occasional 122 meters. Long houses were long and narrow, and had arched roofs. They were usually 6 meters wide and tall and were made almost entirely of wood. If you were to see a long house today, you would see a small porch made of wood in the front of the long house. Behind the porch would be a wooden door hanging on either wooden hinges or dear/bear skin. In a normal home there would be over one hundred residents and with twenty families living in one long house, and thirty or so long houses in one village. Every long house was owned by a different type of clan and the clan would build their long house to accommodate its residents. In a long house there were two points of entry, one being the back door and the other being the large front entrance. There also was a three meter hole in the middle of the roof to allow sunlight as well as to let smoke leave. The basic idea of building long houses was pretty simple. Firstly, wooden poles would be cut and in every corner of the house a post would be installed ten centimeters apart. At the very least, it would be one meter in the ground and six meters in the air. The corners would be reinforced with bark and rope made from branches to ensure a strong and solid base. These corners would then support the cross beams and poles built on top. They would repeat this procedure until the entire framework for the house was completed. Poles were also installed in the inside the house for extra support. Once this was completed, the spaces in between were covered with bark cut like long sheets. These bark sheets were held in place by string made by branches. Seasonal Life Legend has it that during the time when war was the normal state of things, a young Huron woman who lived apart from her mother became pregnant. Although, she was still a virgin. Her mother dreamed and believed that the child was destined to do great things. The newly-born, boy was named Dekanawida and was truly gifted. As the boy grew, he displayed his natural gift of persuasive speaking, but his own people treated him with only doubt and jealousy. Because of this, he decided to leave and eventually arrived to the country of the five Iroquois nations. There, the boy traveled amongst the Iroquois hunters giving them a message of peace and telling them to take the message back to their chiefs. He became known as the Peacemaker who stopped for a time among the Onondagas and gazed through the smoke hole of the house of Ayonhwathah. Ayonhwathah was a cannibal but was persuaded by the Peacemaker to accept his message of peace and change his way of life. The Dekanawida charged him with the task of converting Thadodaho, a particularly unpleasant shaman with snakes in his hair. Ayonhwathah had to convert Thadodaho by combining the snakes from his hair and Dekanawida left to spread his message to peace among the Mohawk. Unfortunately, Ayonhwathah was unsuccessful and Thadodaho killed each of Ayonhwathah's three daughters in turn. Creation Story In great grief, Ayonhwathah left his village to travel eastward into the Mohawk country. Soon, he encountered Dekanawida who cured Ayonhwathah's grief by "uttering the Requickening Address for the first time. They sang the Peace Hymn, the Hai Hai. Together, Dekanawida and Ayonhwathah taught the ritual to the Mohawk nation and headed westward accompanied by the Mohawk chiefs. They also quickly convinced the Oneidas to join the League as younger brother of the Mohawk. Bypassing the Onondaga for a time, they travelled to Cayuga, who also accepted the membership in the League as younger brothers. The three nations then returned to the Onondagas, all of whom, save Thadodaho, joined the league as older brothers on the side of the Mohawk. These four nation went on to the Seneca, and convinces this last nation to join, also as older brothers. With the power of all five nations behind them, Dekanawida and Ayonhwathah returned to Thadodaho, and straightened his mind with the greatest difficulty. They combined the snakes from his hair. Thadodaho was made first among equals in the role of the fifty League Chiefs, placed antlers on the heads of all the chiefs as symbols of their authority, and taught them the words of the Great Law. As a result of Dekanawida's efforts, peace was brought to all five nations and they ceased to war amongst themselves. In conclusion. the all lived as brothers of the same clan. Government Foods Ceremonies Trade Relations Issues The Iroquois had a special longhouse in each village for certain ceremonies and councils. In there, they played songs, performed skits, recited speeches and executed elaborate dances. Tobacco was common at ceremonies since they believed that the smoke produced from it went to heaven, along with prayers. This is why the Iroquois are also commonly called "The Tobacco Nation". Special ceremonies were taken on by societies created by people who dreamed of the same spirit forces. For example, the False Face Society and the members associated it were believed to possess special powers to drive away evil spirits which caused illnesses. A man was invited to the group if he had a dream of a false face spirit. He would have to then carve the mask which represented the spirit. In a year, the Iroquois had 6-8 festivals. Most important festival was the midwinter festival. They gave thanks to the spirits of their most important food crops (corn, beans, and squash). They participated in games, sang, danced, prayed, and made speeches. Seneca Cayuga Onondaga Mohawk Oneida Tuscarora The Iroquois had a very varied diet. This is because of the amount of food that was readily available to them. The Iroquois gather a variety of foods/goods. Some of these foods/goods included berries, maple syrup tapped from trees, and plants or herbs that could be used to heal. The Iroquois’s three main crops consisted of corn, beans, and squash, which were called the three sisters. To plant the crops the Iroquois had many ways to first clear the land to make room for the “farm” area. The Iroquois used a method known as “Slash and burn” to clear the land. Large trees were girdled which means that the tree would be given a cut so large that it caused the tree’s death. Then piles of branches would be burned at the base of the tree until the tree fell down and only a stump remained. This soil would then be used for approximately 10 years until the soil is exhausted. Then this whole process would start over again a few years before the old area gave out. The Iroquois were skilled farmers and had a wide variety of tools that helped them cultivate the land. To work the soil the Iroquois used stone, bone, antler, and wooden implements. To hunt the Iroquois used a wide array of weapons that doubled for hunting and wartime use. Some of those weapons are but are not limited to… > Tomahawk

The Tomahawk is a Native American version of an axe. It is hatchet like in its properties and serves a variety of purposes. It is used for hunting, hand to hand combat, and was occasionally thrown at ones opponent. It was traditionally made of a stone head and a wooden handle. > Lance

The Iroquois hunters used the lance on a daily bases. The lance that the Iroquois used very long and that added to the versatility of the weapon. In times of war the Iroquois would wield the lance atop a horse to strike the enemy in the same way they would hunt. > Bow & Arrow

The Bow and arrow is another example of a tool that is both used for hunting and in times of war. The bow and arrow that the Iroquois used was made from a very well crafted piece of wood. And the arrowhead was made from materials such as flint, metal, and animal bones. Apart from growing crops and gathering; the Iroquois also hunted a variety of animals. The game that the Iroquois hunted was mostly deer but when the opportunity presented itself the Iroquois would also hunt for wild turkey and migratory birds. In the winter months the Iroquois would hunt for muskrat and beavers. But the Iroquois where not just limited to hunting mammals. Fishing was also a very significant source of food because of the fact that many of the Iroquois villages were located near the St. Lawrence River. The Iroquois fished for salmon, trout, bass, perch and whitefish. In the spring time these fish were caught in nets. However in the winter fishing holes were made in the ice to allow the Iroquois to ice fish. 23 players representing the Iroquois Lacrosse Team may not be able to participate in a Lacrosse tourney as they can only return to their home if they have official U.S. or Canadian passports. The British Government will not give them visas unless they guarantee that they will be allowed to return home. Their Haudenosaunee passports were deemed inadequate, partly handwritten, lacking in high-tech security features. The members born within the borders of the country have been offered U.S. and Canadian passports but refuse to carry them because they see it as an attack to their identity. The refusal to travel with passports not issued by the Iroquois confederacy challenges a very sensitive issue in Indian country, sovereignty. The right of Native nations to govern themselves independently has been long recognized by federal treaties. Although, now the extent of that recognition beyond U.S. border is under question in a post 9/11 world. The players made one last attempt to persuade the British officials to recognize their passports but it was unsuccessful. This means that the Lacrosse Team would miss the tournament and their last game. As the Iroquois of the Eastern Woodland were mainly farmers, they had to incorporate that with the way they lived. Since the Iroquois were mainly a stationary tribe they weren't required to migrate. Since theses natives were more farmers then hunters, they were able to settle down instead of always being on the hunt. However, this didn’t give them complete freedom. They would have to move every ten to twenty years due to the soil being worn out and farming supplies being used up. On the contrary, since the natives didn’t have to follow and hunt their prey to feed themselves they were a stationary tribe and had the ability to settle down wherever they wished. The natives would generally try to place their villages near their working field for their convenience. It wasn’t uncommon to see a village of thirty long houses. Villages were also tried to be placed not so far from each other in case of emergency. Tribe leaders would take refuge in a nearby larger and fortified village. Larger villages generally were barricaded with a wooden structure to prevent and hold off attacks. Well defended villages had wooden poles of up to twelve metres protecting their village. The method in creating the long houses and their wall was somewhat similar. The elephantine poles were set up three centimeters apart about the circumference of the village. The gaps in between were covered with sheets of bark and tied together with branches. The palisades were a great way to defend the village as watch towers were built next to them. The watch towers and the single entry point to the village made it easy to be protected from sneak attacks. Also since the natives didn’t always have to fear on being attacked, they could focus on other things, such as food. The Iroquois were skilled farmers. These natives used the slash and burn technique to fertilize land. During the spring they would burn brush and trees to enrich their fields. They also cleared the land and planted corn, beans and squash which they called “the three sisters." However, the Iroquois weren’t just farmers they were skilled hunters as well. Their hunting weapons consisted of a bow and arrow. They would sometimes wear the skin of a deer over their body to sneak up on deer. The Iroquois would hunt dear, bears and goose. They would normally gather seeds, berries, fruits, nuts and dry berries, corn, fish, meat and squash for the winter. In the summer normally they would stock up on these foods for the winter. While they were in the winter season, they couldn't totally rely on the amount of food reserved food, so they hunted muskrats and beavers in the winter. The Huron’s trade system existed until the middle of the 1600’s. At that point, the Iroquois’s trade network began to compete with theirs; they both wanted control over the fur trade. The reason being was that whoever had control over the fur trade had power over the other Indian tribes. Since the Iroquois Confederacy were already enemies of the Hurons, Algonquins, and Montagnais, this only made problems worse. The conflict between the Hurons and Iroquois regarding the fur trade caused both tribes to weaken and the Europeans were pleased. They thought that if both tribes weakened, they would be able to take over the land and control the fur trade themselves. The Europeans were successful in influencing the Iroquois in trading fur with them. The fur trade changed the lives of the people of the Eastern Woodland. They became used to the European goods and began to move away from the native ways. They adjusted the way they farmed, cooked, hunted, and even dressed. They spent more time hunting for furs so that they could trade them for more European goods. This way the Europeans got more fur and satisfied the Iroquois. The Iroquoian societies were matrilocal and matrilineal. Matrilineal meant that women were responsible for the fields in which they grew crops. As well as ensuring that the crops were taken care of; and harvested. Matrilocal meant that when a couple married they would go and live with the bride’s family not the grooms. The government was also affected by the matrilocal and matrilineal societies. At the local level each clan or extended family had two leaders, which the women elders of the clan selected. One leader was the “civil chief” who had the task of directing the normal activities of the clan. The other was the military chief who was responsible for settling conflicts with other groups and clans. These chiefs had very important positions, which could be revoked if the women elders felt the chief proved to be a poor leader. Councils were held regularly between towns to discuss matters that concerned the entire group. Each town sent a representative to the council. The Iroquois also had another stage of government. It is called the League of Nations. It is a total of six nations that joined together to form the League of Nations. Here each Iroquois Nation had a set number of seats on the Council. The decisions of the Council were binding on every person in all Iroquois Nations. The primary reason for the founding of this league was to propose the Great Law of Peace which stated that the Iroquois should not kill each other. In this council only major issues were debated; the league did not try to create rules for each tribe and village. Like today's political parties there were groups inside the League. The war-like Mohawk and Oneida often teamed up in the debates. The peaceful Seneca and Cayuga speakers would team up to oppose them. Fortunately, one of the League's constitutional rules was that the Chief of the League would always be selected from the Onondaga Nation. The peace loving Onondaga held 14 seats in the council. The Onondaga were able to keep peace simply by reminding all representatives that their block of votes could swing either way.
In the League the Mohawk, Onondaga, and Seneca were addressed as "elder brothers" and the Oneida, Cayuga, and Tuscarora were addressed as "younger brothers". So to summarize the Iroquois had a three level system of government. The first is town, the second is tribal, and the third is confederacy (League of Nations). Thank-You! :) Since one long house housed over a hundred people, the long house was divided into sections of living, similar to tiny apartments. Each section was six meters in length and was home to two families. Each family would have roughly a meter space under the racks they slept on to store items such as food supplies and tools. If there was not enough space there, they would then use the various other racks to store their possessions. Each family also wanted some privacy, so animal hides would separate one family from another. Much of the clothing worn by the Iroquois was adapted to some European clothing, mainly French. The Iroquois often used elm bark canoes as a mode of transportation across water. Our Skit
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